Hey, Tolkien. I Missed You.

chapter 1

Hey, Tolkien. I’ve missed you.

I don’t know why I stopped reading your words. I first heard them read aloud in my family, when I was a child. I loved your stories, characters, and writing. I read The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit multiple times on my own as I grew older; I was a shy little bookworm. I finally saw the movies, and was hooked. I watched them every Christmas break after that, and never stopped enjoying them and gaining new insights and thoughts from the experience. Entering high school, I picked up The Fellowship of the Ring over the summer, determined to make it through the series before school started. But I never made it past Theoden’s courts in The Two Towers. For some reason, I got stuck. Then Life happened. School got busier and busier. I only ever had time to read required literature for school. Reading lost a bit of its magic. I read the great works of literature, and analyzed the crap out of them. But, by that point, great literature held little meaning, few life-impacting lessons, and no magic. So, I forgot the magic of reading, and how vital it impacted my ability to write well, too.

Then, for some reason, even though I still hadn’t laid a finger on The Two Towers, I decided that it would be a good idea to start a blog based completely on the metaphor of stepping outside the Bag End door. I used some quotes from the books, examples from the movies, and general Middle Earth metaphors. But I still didn’t pick up the books again. Apparently I thought that my yearly dosage of the movies would suffice to sustain the metaphor and my inspiration for my Bag-End-based musings.

next chapter

Well, Tolkien, I’m finally back. I missed you, and I forgot how inspiring you are. For no particularly compelling reason, I decided to take the Fellowship of the Ring with me to burn time on a 4-hour plane ride to California three weeks ago. I knew that the first few chapters were a little monotonous, with the prologue, explanation of hobbits, and long description of Bilbo’s party, but I decided to fully commit to my first Tolkien-reading-experience in years. I read every word of the forward, preface, “Concerning Hobbits” intro, and then into the first chapter. It was, indeed, a little monotonous, but I kept reading. By the time Gandalf had returned to give Frodo an account of the Ring, memory was stirring in me. I began to remember why I loved these books so much. And by the time I got to Frodo’s encounter with Farmer Maggot, I was thoroughly enjoying the small sections that I would read each night before bed. I started trying to catch a couple pages, half a chapter, or sometimes a whole chapter whenever I got the chance– the plane ride home, on break at work, and sitting outside on the lawn, looking at the sunset.

chapter 3

Well, Tolkien, I just wanted to say thank you. I’m not tucking your words away on my bookshelf and forgetting about them any more. Life will still be crazy, and will probably do its best to distract me from reading the things that truly bring me joy and inspire me. But, day by day, step by step, I will focus on continuing to read and learn. I’m learning that, in order to become the people we truly want to be, we have to prioritize the things that truly inspire and impact us.

This song lyric has been on my mind a lot recently, in relation to that:

“Well if you can’t get what you love
You learn to love the things you’ve got
If you can’t be what you want
You learn to be the things you’re not
If you can’t get what you need
You learn to need the things that stop you dreaming.” {emphasis mine}

— Passenger, “The Things That Stop You Dreaming”

Too often, the mundane and painful things of life make us chase after “the things that stop our dreaming”– in my case, being so immersed in the stress of school, literary analysis, and English classes that I don’t make time to read books that truly inspire me.

Well, Tolkien, chapter by chapter, book by book, I hope to seek after the things that inspire and continue my dreaming. Besides, coming back to you words may breathe a little life into this struggling blog. Thanks, Tolkien, for helping me become the writer, reader, and human that I want to become. From now on, your words will be close to hand, mind, and heart.

4

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Written Photographs

“He was a brave little soul, and everyone who sped by him knew it. Wobbly legs tottered and clanked over the concrete as his eyes bored holes in his destination. Inch by inch he survived. Every passing glass-window-paned face admired and stared, but none cared.”


 

I’ve never been good at photography. A couple reasons:

  1. Currently I don’t have the money to put into a really nice camera, or the time to contribute to honing my skill.
  2. It’s simply not my forte. There are other skills I care about more.

Still, I often glimpse something and wish that I could capture its beauty through a camera lens.

*Note to all you Photographers out there*

You are amazing. I don’t know how you do it.  If you have the time, please run over here and help me with my blog photography. 🙂 Seriously, though… keep creating your beautiful art.

Love,

Me

Anyhow…

When I left for Orlando this summer, I expected to see some amazing things, and decided to capture them with my camera. But my beauty-capturing endeavors always fell short of what my eyes had glimpsed. Feeling like a failure, I resignedly decided that immortalizing my memories on a camera chip was impossible.

But a new idea was tiptoeing up behind me. It began when I :

  1. Read “The Book Thief”, by Markus Zusak
  2. Became starved of time to write
  3. Caught an interesting mental snapshot of a friend, and later described that snapshot in a short paragraph full of adjectives, colors, and metaphors

So, fast forward; whizzing down the back roads of Southern Florida, seeing a strange sight blur past the car, peering into the rearview mirror to verify what I had seen, and then scribbling this description onto a nearby scrap of paper.

“He was a brave little soul, and everyone who sped by him knew it. Wobbly legs tottered and clanked over the concrete, inch by inch, as his eyes bored holes in his destination. Inch by inch he survived. Every passing glass-window-paned face admired and stared, but none cared.”

Who was he? He was simply a turtle, meticulously and painfully pushing his slow little limbs through a concrete strip of danger.

Oddly enough, twenty minutes later, we whizzed by a grizzled, middle-aged man in a wheelchair. He peered across the road, and then began to wheel his way across it with surprisingly dexterity. Seeing him, I glanced down at my description of the turtle, surprised. Wobbly legs, admiring/staring but not caring, brave little soul. They were similar brave souls.

After this, I basically abandoned photographing the trip. Instead, interesting, beautiful, and important sights would be  scribbled into my red composition notebook in terms as interesting, poetic, personified, and metaphorical as possible. They were my “written photographs”, as I came to call them. And, oddly enough, they have become my primary form of writing these days.

I thought I would share just a few examples of the many written photographs that I took over the course of my adventures. There may be incomplete metaphors, odd comparisons, and less-than-perfect wording, but they are spontaneously written reflections of something I thought was worth remembering. I hope they provide you with a beautiful perspective


 

“Shots in the night, illuminating hazy jungles.” (The surreal feeling of a midnight jungle-like-farm lit by intermittent fireworks sailing into the sky)

“Singing quietly and hoarsely into the direct face of the wind, my song spat back and fragmented, heard only by my ears .” (A reflection on singing beside the open window of a road-trip van)

“…Crocheted with emerald tendrils…”

100_4558                                        (one of the few actually decent photos I took on the trip)

“A lone squaw— yet sandy-haired and white as white can be—venturing out alone in her brave old canoe, arms confident and strong, draped in a cloak of comforting black.” (Written while watching a friend venture out on the family canoe)

“Pre-packaged crap (Grab and Go, for your convenience!), desolate faces, wasted hearts, 16 shots of espresso, a desperately needed love letter, and a bicycling Grey-Hair clutching a violin.” (My experience at a California Safeway… will be explained in a coming post).


 

Keep an eye out for more written photographs! They’ll be weaseling their way in here more often, I hope.

(Don’t Forget to Wipe Your Feet on the Mat!)

Welcome back to Bag End, my fellow hobbits, elves, warriors, and dwarves! (Yes, you goblins can come in too… but for Heaven’s sake please wipe your grimy little feet on the rug!)

bag end door

Come in, come in! There’s a hook for your cloaks, a rack for your weapons, and a mat for your shoes. Bacon and mushrooms and a boiling kettle are waiting for you in the kitchen. Follow your nose!

Sit yourselves down wherever you like, and eat up! Now, who will begin our storytelling venture, of stories from the past month of adventure? Me? Figures; you all want to stuff your faces. Alright, I suppose. Don’t gobble up all the food while I’m talking, though. I would like at least a few seedcakes, if you don’t mind.

2

So, this summer… and these past 30 days of travelling from one end of the country to the other; from Orlando Florida to Northern California.

Telling the entire story in one sitting would probably require three day’s worth of tea-times and second-breakfasts (a.k.a. emptying my pantry). Thus, I will reserve my many thoughts and experiences for shorter discussions over the next several weeks.

But, meanwhile, here are just a few jumbled descriptions, thoughts and facts to pique your curiosity about my unforgettable journeys.


I took pictures with a camera made of paper

I encountered strange sights: a catless tail, a van-invading monkey, a rusty Jack-Marley chain lying hidden for 10 years, and a van with only two working seatbelts

I witnessed Fate and Time playing thumb wars at least 3 times. As a result, we: got lost, missed flights, and had a handful of near-mishap adventures. 

Within the span of three days, I tried at least 37 new fruits, leaves, and vegetables. 

Words of wisdom: “Those grapes you cannot taste are always sour”. (Mind you, these words of wisdom were found in a fortune cookie, at the first Chinese restaurant I had ever gone to) 

I discovered: a place of little fear and great respect, a minty-smelling herb with many medicinal uses, that travel can bring out ugliness in the human heart, that I love climbing on mossy rocks,  and that whole roasted coconuts are delicious


So, friends, there is an as-short-as-possible overview of my summer adventures. Everything mentioned there will be described in detail and through stories sometime in the near future, so keep an ear out for the whistling of the tea kettle.

I hope you enjoyed your meal. I had my turn talking; now it’s yours. What sorts of journeys have you embarked on this summer? Any words of wisdom that were woven into your heart? New things you tried? Interesting sights and discoveries? Go on now, tell away. Another kettle is boiling. We have plenty of time for stories here at Bag End.

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